This week, in the first part of the health series, I want to discuss how to eat healthier, how to create meal plans, and how to reward yourself with snacks.
The Importance Of Quality Food, Eating Healthy, And Feeling Good
Health is crucial to the individual, and your physical wellbeing is your responsibility. However, taking care of yourself improves your mental health, physical body, and emotional stability.
The bedrock of quality health is eating right. What do I mean by eating right? You already know: eat vegetables, fruits, and meats while cutting out junk and garbage. It’s not rocket science to know that fast food is worse for you than a home cook meal that features a main course and vegetable sides. Therefore, I’m not going to waste time listing what foods are good or bad. Most individuals understand entirely what a healthy meal is.
However, in this post, I want to make the argument as to why you need to eat healthily and how to do it. Lastly, I want to provide the tools you need to remain motivated to eat better food and improve your overall health.
Eat Better Food – For The Sake Of Your Health And Happiness
Your body is fueled by whatever food or drinks you consume throughout the day. If you want to be a sharp thinker, capable of handling the ups and downs of the day with grace and intelligence, then eat and drink nutritious consumables.
For example, if you eat crappy fast food, then you’ll feel uncomfortable, disgusting, and heavy. These feelings won’t make it easier for you to stay motivated through difficult tasks or emotionally centered when facing difficult situations.
Healthy food cleans your system while providing the energy you need to tackle the day. It can be challenging to find foods to eat or change your dietary plans. However, the change is worth it. Otherwise, you’ll always keep gaining weight, feeling cruddy, and ashamed of your eating habits. Read on to figure out the best ways to change your eating habits for the better, so you can live a more fulfilling life.
The Truth About Eating Healthy Foods
There are frequent and constant objections that people have to eat healthily, and I want to go through the more popular ones. By undermining and dispelling these ideas, I hope to convince you that it’s not as difficult as you may think to create better eating habits.
Healthy Food Is Not More Expensive
To start, people argue that healthy food is more expensive. Now, this is a matter of where you shop. Some stores offer better prices on produce than others, and you’ll need to do the legwork to compare prices and see which store works for you. It won’t take long, and the front-end investment will ensure you’re spending your money wisely.
Firstly, healthy options, such as fruits and vegetables, are usually cheaper than eating out. Think about it: when you eat out, you are paying for people to prepare and cook your food. Typically, the food isn’t great for you to begin with, but even going to a fast food joint or restaurant will see you paying primarily for the preparation of said food. However, if you buy a bag of apples instead, you save immensely on food preparation and overhead costs. So, not only do you have a healthier option, but you’re also saving yourself a few dollars.
Secondly, you always have to pay with decreased health in the long-run. If you eat fast food today, you’ll have health problems tomorrow. Therefore, you’re not genuinely saving money, and all you’re doing is creating stress for yourself and your family in your older years. Diabetes, obesity, and other health issues are frequently attached to eating poorly, and better health is crucial in preventing these diseases. Lastly, these diseases and relevant health care costs are costly for yourself and society as a whole. Thus, it’s worth spending money on healthy food in the long-term even if you can make the case that fast food/unhealthy food may be cheaper in certain situations.
Healthy Food Is Tasty And Uplifting
Healthy eating can be very, very tasty if you actually know how to season food. If throwing too much salt on re-cooked fries is the pinnacle of flavor for you then you may need to diversify your palette. There are many healthy, tasty food options. Thus it’s vital to search what may or may not appeal to you.Searching for delicious recipes takes time, but once you figure out what you like cooking and preparation become much easier.
For example, bake your fries and drizzle a little oil on top instead of frying them. Additionally, take foods that you traditionally don’t like, such as broccoli, and sautee it in a pan with light oil and seasoning. Now a common dislike may become a healthy snack.
I’ll go over this more down in the meal plan section, but it is worthwhile to take foods that you do like and find ways to make them healthier. Or to find foods that you don’t like and make them tastier with a little more seasoning or oil.
Eating Healthy Requires More Time – At First
This criticism is legitimate: it does require more time to eat healthy – at first. However, everything I’ve ever outlined on this blog needs more time, energy, and effort than following the standard path. It takes more effort to be virtuous or to learn a skill or decide on a life goal. Thus, it will take more time to eat healthier. However, the reality is that when you want to improve yourself and meaningfully do something you have to invest time and energy.
The time you invest is substantial when you first start. Therefore, set aside a few hours to figure these things out, so you don’t get discouraged. Understand that you may lapse into bad habits, that not every meal you make will be a five-star meal, you’ll forget to pack your lunch somedays, etc. However, none of these realities are reasons for you to give up.
Once you have the habits in place, it’s smooth sailing. You’ll be able to push past any fears or reservations you have. Before long, you’ll be improving your life, yourself, and your health.
You Still Have To Overcome Stress Eating
Stress eating is a problem and contributes to weight and health issues. I want to touch on the two ways to overcome stress eating:
Reduce your stresses. Yes, not all burdens are so easy to defeat, however, others are. Watching media can create unnecessary stress. So can wasting time on a toxic platform like Twitter. Are you surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed or fail? And are you spending your time wisely and following the goals you set out for yourself? There is a multitude of things you can change within your life in order to improve your wellbeing and reduce your stress.
Snack on healthier alternatives. I used to stress-eat on chips, candy, and other garbage foods. The best way to undermine the adverse effects stress eating can have on you is to invest in healthy alternatives such as almonds and the like. These alternatives will offer a better selection for you to eat and ensure your health won’t deteriorate when you’ve met a stressful situation.
Stress eating can be difficult to overcome. However, the solutions outlined above can help reduce the negative impact it may have on your health.
Eating Healthy: How To Make A Meal Plan
The foundation of eating healthy is creating a meal plan that will give you the structure you need to make the best decisions about eating. When we make meal plans, we take thinking out of the equation as we already have a program that tells us what needs to happen. Whether you’re grocery shopping, cooking meals for the week, or deciding what to eat at what time, meal plans enable you to reduce stress and guesswork when you’re trying to eat healthily.
Take Stock Of Healthy Foods and Recipes You’d Like To Eat Or Try
As I stated earlier, you can simply take a list of foods that you enjoy eating and find wholesome variations. It’s not difficult to Google “how to prepare X in a healthy way” and find a multitude of recipes and answers.
Additionally, you can simply look up lists of fruits, vegetables, meats, carbs, and other items that are good for you. Once again, a quick Google search can provide a complete list of quality foods you should be consuming.
I want to stress that we’re looking at common sense applications. We’re starting at the basics, so don’t waste time counting calories or fretting over bad carbs or good carbs. You know which foods are inherently healthy, and you have the tools to confirm your assumptions. For example, we all know that apples are more wholesome than candy bars and would make a great substitute. Once you have the basics of your meal plan down and are eating well for a few weeks, then start analyzing where you can improve and what foods will help you better in the long-run. Remember: pursue the habit before the expertise.
Lastly, be realistic about your budget, time, and cooking tools. You may need to invest in, say, a better pan to cook some recipes you find. On the other hand, you may not have five hours to prepare a dish. Set realistic expectations and operate within the restraints that you have in your life. When you set unrealistic expectations, then inevitably fail to meet them, you will quickly give up.
Start Applying Your Meal Plan By Cooking Ahead
A huge benefit of the meal plan is that you can plan your meals. Once you’ve invested the time in finding the right recipes and foods you want to eat, you can start crafting the actual meal plan by placing these recipes throughout the week. By setting your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’ll develop a firm understanding of what you’re eating and when. Here is an example meal plan:
|Monday||Br – eggs and toast|
L – tuna, green beans
D – spaghetti
|Tuesday||Br – apple, toast|
L – tuna, green beans
D – burgers and salad
|Wednesday||Br – eggs and toast|
L – tacos
D – vegetarian chili
|Thursday||Br – fruit salad|
L – group lunch (order a salad)
D – wings, broccoli, mashed potatoes
|Friday||Br – eggs and toast|
L – tuna, green beans
D – leftovers
For five days a week, you’re set. You know what you’re eating and when. This takes a huge burden off you’re thinking. Instead of wondering what you’re going to eat when you get home, you simply arrive, consult the meal plan, and start cooking.
However, we can take this even farther. If you have a completed meal plan and know what you’re going to eat for the week, then you can cook your food ahead of time. For example, if you can prepare all your lunches for the week on Sunday, you’ll save yourself time in the long-run. While this technique doesn’t work for every meal, you should consider using it wherever appropriate.
Preparation is a major benefit of the meal plan. The ability to cook ahead of time and have everything ready will save you mental energy as well as prevent stress. Additionally, if you already have your meals planned for the week, you know what to pick up at the store and thus only need to shop once or twice a week. This will reduce the time you invest in shopping.
Final Thoughts On The Meal Plan
Firstly, if you can, create a meal plan that is visible in your home. My wife and I hang up our meal plan on the fridge, and it helps with planning.
Additionally, always seek to shop one to two days a week. If you create a recipe list and ensure it’s very detailed, you can prevent overspending as well as multiple trips to the grocery store.
Experiment and try new things! Never settle for the same old recipes because you will become bored and give up on your healthy eating. Multiple online sources will help you find excellent recipes.
Additionally, be wary of items that can spoil. For example, if you have avocados for a meal later in the week, then be aware that the avocado may rot or become less tasty by the end of the week. Try to use fresher food at the beginning of the week and save any frozen items for the latter half.
Lastly, primarily eating healthy foods empowers your taste buds to respond more sharply to sugary treats. This ensures when you do have a cookie, it feels special and tastes fantastic. Also, when you eat less junk food, they become treats instead of common occurrences. Now, when you achieve a big goal, you can reward yourself with a lazy sit down in front of the TV for an hour while enjoying a bowl of ice cream, all guilt-free.
Eating Healthily Will Enable You To Live Your Best Life
Eating healthily will give your body the right nutrients it needs. By creating a meal plan and overcoming the cliches and lies surrounding eating healthy, you can develop the habit in your daily life.
So go forth. Tally what you’d like to try, create your meal plan, then start cooking. Eat well, and you’ll thrive as an individual.
- What are your favorite unhealthy foods to eat? How often do you eat them? What do you feel like after you eat them?
- What are your favorite healthy foods to eat? How often do you eat them? What do you feel like after you eat them?
- How do you think your life would change if you ate more healthier food instead of unhealthy food? Where would you need to start to make such a change?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.